Sorry, But Max Baucus is About the Best We Can Expect From Montana, Politically

This week, Max Baucus of Montana announced his retirement after this term, and some progressives have been falling all over themselves congratulating themselves, and expressing nothing short of glee over losing him in the Senate.  

Be careful what you wish for, folks. 

Baucus is from Montana. Montana usually elects Democrats, but they're always conservative, based on the standards of many progressives, who like to label "RINOS." And who would expect anything different from Montana. Like the other 49 states, Montana is a unique entity, in that they are extremely independent. This is the problem with thinking in national terms; except for president, there is no national election. Baucus only represents Montana, and Montana politics is a mixed bag, at best. 

They are somewhat progressive on the environment, but if you think 90% of Montanans were probably in favor of universal background checks, you're likely mistaken. They are very much against any kind of gun control. While they were outspoken in their opposition to a "public option" because they don't want the federal government telling them what to do, they are one of the few states actively considering a single-payer system. They are a right to work state, but because of their colorful past history of corruption, they are extremely vocal against Citizens United. 

So, tell me. Is Montana conservative or liberal? 

Like all states, it's a mixed bag, although they lean more to the right overall.

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Stop Complaining About Dems. In 2014, Voters Will Still Only Have 2 Choices: Them or Disaster

I know many of the people who read this blog would love to see a "third party" pop up. Unfortunately, our system is built in such a way that all a third party does is weaken one of the other two. This is why the progressive movement keeps failing; we keep hoping for things that can't happen, and we look down on those things that can happen. 

It's important for everyone to realize that elections are the most important element in a democratic republic. They are the linchpin for everything. Marching and occupying is not, in itself, an expression of democracy. If such activism is not followed by effective campaign strategy that puts the best available people in office every single time, then it’s pretty much worthless.

That phrase is key. The BEST AVAILABLE candidate. In a democracy as diverse as ours, the best available candidate will almost never be far left, unless he or she represents a full-on left district. Sorry. 

I know, you don't want to hear that. But here's the thing; the reason there are so many right wingers in the government is because they've embraced the electoral process, and they've adopted, and virtually taken over a major political party, like parasites feeding from a host. And we can't really make progress until we get rid of them. We outnumber them; it should be easy.  Yet, it's not, because they tend to be parasites, using the political party apparatus to make themselves more powerful, while we flail on the outside, and expect the parties to do our bidding.

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The Truth About AUMF and NDAA

Several times throughout his presidency, President Obama has asserted that he has the power to use lethal means (presumably including drones) to take out al Qaeda and the Taliban. His lawyers and the Attorney General have affirmed his assertion that he has that power. 

And every time one of them asserts this power, a large number of very loud liberal pundits scream and yell and blame HIM for having that power and not denying that he has it. Apparently, he’s supposed to simply reject that power, and it will magically dissolve into nothingness. By claiming he doesn’t have that power, according to them, it will cease to exist, and we will all be safe and secure, and there will be no drones from now on, and all will be peaceful and right with the world, forever and ever.

Can I get an amen?

There’s just one problem, and it’s a pretty big one.

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The Veracity of Truth Podcast #16: Revealing the GOP’s Sequester End Game, GOP Minority Games

Welcome to the Veracity of Truth podcast. In this edition, I talk about the GOP's endgame with regard to the sequester, and their sudden attitude toward minorities and why it won't work. Also, taxes. Just taxes. 

2013-03-03 Veracity of Truth- The PCTC Podcast

Enjoy…

 

Politics 101 for the Far Left, Part Two… Lessons 6-10

Overall, strategy is far more important to moving the country forward than having the right positions on issues. This is because, in order to get anything progressive done, we have to win elections and get people into office who will at least be willing to listen to reason. That means accepting Democrats who aren't full-on progressives, at least for the time being, and it means learning how the political system works, so that we can use it to it's best effect.

To make sure the best candidates win elections, and also to make sure the worst people don't win elections, we have to appeal to a majority, and we have to encourage turnout. To do that, we have to understand some basics. Here are a few more that are very important. 

Lesson #6:  Politics is a game of strategy, but political governance is different from political campaigning.  

As I said, it's good to get the right people elected, but it's oftentimes just as important to get the wrong people out. While governance affects the average person’s life in profound ways, it's important to understand that governance and politics are two separate concepts. In fact, one major reason the right wing is so ineffective while running government is that they don't understand this basic concept. Unfortunately, some progressives have a problem with it, too. Especially the professional left. 

When a politician is running for office, (s)he is working against the opposition party. They try to stake out ground and make a case why their brand of compromise will be better for the constituents in that state or district than the compromise reached by their opponent. Good candidates will make a case for themselves and attack the opposition's weaknesses. That is how campaign politics works. 

That is NOT how governance works. When actually governing the country, Democrats have to work WITH Republicans. They can sometimes go after someone who's blocking a bill, but for the most part, they make deals and try to attract votes for the issues they care about. You simply cannot expect politicians to go at each other inside the legislature the way they do on the campaign trail, and that's because…

Lesson #7: Politics is a game of strategy, but some strategies simply don’t work, like always “fighting.” 

For politicians, always "fighting" is actually a bad strategy, mostly because it's counterproductive. It's great for the right wing, because their main contention is that the government can't do anything right, and they're trying to prove themselves correct. But for everyone else, it doesn't work. That's why Democrats have won big in three of the last four elections, and it's why Congress has a single-digit approval rating. Fighting only appeals to the fringes; it's not a smart political strategy for politicians. 

It's OUR job to fight, but to fight for issues, not just against idiots. It's OUR job to make the electorate feel passionate about an issue, so that politicians know we have their backs. To expect it from politicians, who have to make deals with people of diverse views in order to get anything done, is to expect them to commit political suicide. Not many bills would pass if Democrats ran around calling Boehner and Cantor "poopyheads." Not much gets done now, precisely because that's what Republicans do, 24/7.  

Which leads to: 

Lesson #8: What works for the right wing simply does not work for progressives. Period. End of Story

One thing everyone needs to understand is that right wing politics really shouldn't work as well as it seems to. The reason they're successful in getting elected is because they receive a big, healthy assist from our side. And part of that is because we too often "fight" against them, and not for anything in particular. As a result of that "strategy," we often look as insane as the right wing. And let me assure you, the right wing giggles with glee every damn time. 

The Republican Party is a minority party. Right now, approximately 27% of voters identify as Republican. Their base, however, is rabid, and will vote for anyone with the GOP, if only for spite. So, how do they win? They win by making sure people who aren't rabidly Republican don't show up to vote. They try to depress turnout. Everything they do is to excite their rabid base AND to make those in the center disgusted with the whole scene, and unmotivated to vote. 

Yes, some of that effort goes to making voting more difficult and wiping "undesirables" off the voter rolls. But they don't do it for the reasons you think. Really; how many people who vote don't actually have a picture ID? A few hundred, at most, in most districts, but probably not enough to swing more than 1-2 Congressional elections. But there's another, underlying reason they do it. They do it because we react to it, and make noise that makes it sound to many swing voters as if their vote won't count. So they stay home, which gives the GOP a better chance. 

The right wing screams at us for a reason. Their base LOVES it when their politicians irritate us and make us mad; it's what they live for. It also discourages swing voters from even showing up on Election Day. 

The problem is, when we "fight back" the same way, it has the same effect. It excites their base and makes swing voters less likely to show up. See the problem? 

And that leads us to:

Lesson #9: More than anything, voters want to vote for something, not against everything. 

"We are the ones we have been waiting for," and "hope and change" were and are not just slogans. This is what voters are looking for. They want to be part of something, and they want to vote for solutions to problems they see around them. They're not motivated by the professional left's "outrage of the day" mentality; they want to know we can change the bad things around us and protect and strengthen the good things.

The average voter lives the stuff we claim to care about every day. They know just as much about the travails of daily living in this neocon- dominated country as we do. They are not "low info voters" just because they don't know the same things we think we know. 

President Obama won twice because he understands this. Most Democratic politicians understand this, as well. In fact, I think most progressives understand this. But the professional left and their minions seem unable to understand this basic premise, and think that, because they're motivated by outrage and continuous crises, everyone else must be, too. This couldn't be further from the truth. Most people are repelled by outrage. Most voters want to live in peace, and they want politicians to worry about issues, and engage in problem-solving activities for them. That's why they elect them.  

One of the biggest problem many progressives have is the "political junkie" effect. Again, because some immerse themselves in "news," they assume they're smarter than everyone else. The effect of this tends to be to treat every bit of political minutiae as important, creating something of a "micro-political" effect. 

Which leads to: 

Lesson #8: The overall meme of the debate is far more important than playing micro-politics.

I used to be a "political news junkie." It's a hard habit to break, but it's very necessary if we're to have political success. Some of the reasons will come in later "lessons," but generally, the problem is this:

Imagine you’re about the leave work, and you’re wondering whether or not you should take your umbrella, so you ask a co-worker if they think it might rain. Which answer are you likely to consider most helpful?

“According to the weather service, it’s not supposed to rain until Friday"?

Or perhaps,

“I don’t know, but I do know the air is dirtier now than it was 20 years ago, the sun's rays are much harsher than they used to be, and the world will probably become uninhabitable in 10 years.”?

Obviously, the first answer is a lot more helpful. But to many swing voters, the rhetoric coming from the left side of the debate sounds like the second answer; a lot of useless information that may be true, but not at all helpful. The second response is that usually dispensed by "political junkies." 

"Political junkies" aren't really political junkies at all; they're "news" junkies. And they tend to lack perspective, for a very basic reason. The news isn't real life, especially nowadays. Even in the greatest of journalistic climates, an event becomes news precisely because it's unusual. What happens to most people never makes it onto the news. Or, if it does, you have to dig for it. 

But in this journalistic climate, everything seems geared toward getting the most eyes and ears, while imparting important information seems to be an afterthought, if it's thought of at all. And that's not just the case with cable news. Most professional left blogs and other "sources" are looking to become the "most popular" source for progressive "news junkies," because it leads to more ad revenue. And let's be real; most "news" these days is actually opinion, which is always colored by the presenter's perspective. There is a lot of raw information out there, if you dig for it, but news junkies tend to just watch whatever appeals to them, and rarely look to find out whether or not what they're being told is true. While such news junkies make fun of Fox News denizens, there is often little difference between what Fox News does, and what much of the professional left propagates. 

If you're a news junkie, step back. Talk to actual people. Look elsewhere to verify what you see or hear, and by all means, understand that most people don't see the same things you might, and they're not "low info" because they don't. 

The average voter doesn’t have time to sit and watch news constantly, or to watch every single thing the government does. Many of them are supposed to be the people we progressives are most concerned about; the families working three jobs just to make the rent and put food on the table. They don't have the time or the inclination to pay attention to every detail they only listen to the overall meme. In 2008 and 2012, they voted for Barack Obama because of his positive message They stayed home in droves in 2010 because the overall message of that election was “Democrats suck.” When both sides are screaming “Democrats suck!” what message do you imagine these folks take away from the “debate,” such as it is?

They don't obsess over details, and the fact that you do doesn't make you smarter. They don't know or care what a "Blue Dog" is. They didn't hear "Blue Dog" in 2010, they heard "Democrat." That is, some of them heard that. Many of them didn't hear anything, because both sides were screaming at each other. Let the far right scream. We can't afford to. We're not like them, and swing voters aren't like them, either. 

Put simply, we have to play politics smarter. And news junkies aren't actually smarter than others.

—————-

The next lessons will be about the actual politics of governing, and how things work. The news junkies will want to pay attention, because what the "news" people tell you about how politics actually works is often based on preconceptions, and not on reality. It's time we dealt with reality. See you next time. 

 

Ten Truths EVERY Progressive Should Embrace for 2014 and Beyond

Albert Einstein once defined “insanity” as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 

He also said, “Man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.”

Einstein was a really smart guy, and not just about math and physics. 

Progressives have been on the outside of the poltical system looking in for 32 years now. At what point does the most vocal segment of our ideology actually reassess their overall strategy and change it, based on the obvious fact that it's not working? 

It's simple, really. We live in a democracy, and we don't make up a majority on our own. But the only people who get to make policy are those who get elected and hold a majority. So, what do you think we need to do be successful in this democracy?

Get elected, right? Get a majority, right? 

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The Veracity of Truth Podcast #15: Speaking of Climate Change and Politics 101

This podcast discusses climate change, how we can sell it, and argues for a change in the constant crisis climate that's killing the progressive movement. 

Also, working on a new Politics 101 series, and finishing it this time…

2013-02-24 Veracity of Truth- The PCTC Podcast

Enjoy… 

 

The Veracity of Truth Podcast #14: Guns, More Guns and Simpson Bowles

This episode of the Podcast takes a look at just how deep our gun problem is. Then, why sequester won't happen, and why Simpson Bowles is just asinine. 

2013-02-20 Veracity of Truth- The PCTC Podcast

New Republic article referenced in the podcast. 

The Veracity of Truth Podcast #13: Progressives, move forward!

Here's an explanation of why I sometimes call them emos, why their emo-ism is killing the left, and why we need to keep our eyes on the prize, which means getting rid of the right wing once and for all. Without that, we can never have a progressive government/country. 

2013-02-17 Veracity of Truth- The PCTC Podcast

Here's the article about Durbin, in which he states that Reid didn't have enough votes for comprehensive filibuster reform. Again, he DID NOT HAVE THE VOTES.

And once again, a list of Obama's accomplishments so far. Pretty impressive. 

It’s “Gun Control” – No More Euphemism, Tell the Truth

One of the biggest reasons progressives have been on the sidelines for about a generation is that, sometimes, the loudest of us really suck at politics.  One reason is because many of the loudest on our side don’t listen to anyone but ourselves. They make assumptions and accept them, then proudly formulate "solutions" to problems, without any investigation into the extent of that problem, or even the details of that problem. 

As an example, let’s look at the term “gun control.”

I've had discussions with a certain progressive who is very spirited and very energetic, and who means well, about her desire to change the "gun control" discussion to a discussion of "responsible gun ownership." For weeks, she's given me reasons why I should be joining her crusade, and she won't accept my objections to doing so.

The main objection I have is my natural aversion to the overuse of euphemism in politics. It's dishonest. Frank Luntz is considered a "genius" because he's teaching intelligent people how to say things to attract right wing morons. That's not what progressives do. We should be attracting the reasonable people who don't buy that BS. Do we really believe that political moderates are too stupid to realize that "responsible gun ownership" is a euphemism for "gun control"? Think about this; how do we get "responsible gun ownership" without gun control? 

My second objection is that there really is no problem with gun control, except that many progressives have opted out of the discussion. They assume most are against gun control, and they leave the discussion to the far extremes of the political spectrum. 

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